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EPA May Regulate Trucking Fuel Efficiency

Illustration depicting a sign with a fuel effiency concept.

The trucking industry may soon face another hurdle, which comes in the form of fuel efficiency regulations. The Obama Administration recently selected the industry as its next target for decreasing pollution. Consequently, the EPA recently proposed a new regulation that will limit the amount of greenhouse gases produced by trucks. The new regulation will eliminate an estimated 1 billion metric tons of carbon emissions by increasing the trucks’ fuel efficiency.

Unfortunately, the regulations are being met with some resistance by the trucking industry. Though the general public is showing overwhelming support, trucking companies don’t want to spend the up-front cost. If carriers saw this as a situation where the benefits outweigh the costs, the trucking industry may see significant improvements across the board.

Cutting Down on Transportation Emissions

Carbon pollution is a well-known problem that warrants quite a few regulations from the EPA. Global carbon emissions grow every year, with 2013 seeing 9.9 billion metric tons of carbon being pumped into our atmosphere. The main contributors to carbon pollution are electricity usage and transportation emissions. Transportation alone represents 31% of the United States’ carbon emissions and 26% of other greenhouse gas emissions. As such, the EPA continues to propose regulations across all industries in an effort to cut down on carbon and greenhouse gas emissions.

The EPA’s newest target is the trucking industry. This June, the EPA proposed a regulation that will drastically cut down on the amount of carbon contributed by freight trucks. 18-wheelers burn nearly 100 million barrels of oil every day, and they only get approximately 5-6 miles per gallon. Emissions from tractor-trailers contribute nearly 20% of all transportation greenhouse gases. The EPA’s new regulation is projected to reduce emissions by about 1 billion metric tons and lower oil usage by 1.8 billion barrels.

So, how does the EPA expect to accomplish this? They will require trucks to upgrade to meet new fuel efficiency standards. All heavy-duty commercial trucks made over the next 10 years will have to be 24% more efficient than their present day counterparts. 18-wheelers will also be required to meet this standard.

Fuel-Efficiency Will Benefit the Trucking Industry

The trucking industry seems resistant to the change. Of course, adhering to EPA regulations will cost more up-front, at an estimated $12,000 more per vehicle, but the benefits are long term. The trucking industry spends billions of dollars each year on fuel alone, so better fuel efficiency will result in significant fuel cost savings.

A UCS report from March suggested that FedEx would save more than $570 million per year from lower fuel costs. Waste Management estimates it will save over $1 billion in annual fuel costs by switching to compressed natural gas (CNG) hybrid trucks. Additionally, the EPA regulations will open up hundreds of new job opportunities for building fuel-efficient, clean energy trucks.

Aside from fuel savings and new jobs, the biggest benefit is cleaner air and a greener planet. Implementing fuel-efficient, heavy-duty trucks may perhaps make the biggest dent in carbon pollution to date, and that is a reassuring thought.


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